Poor Children Exposed to Smoke at Risk
NEW YORK - Poor children whose mothers breathed secondhand smoke during pregnancy are at even greater risk for development problems, a study has found.
Children whose mothers were exposed to secondhand smoke have reduced scores on cognitive development tests at age two, when compared with children from smoke-free homes, according to a study by the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health.
But cognitive development scores are even lower among poor children whose mothers not only breathed secondhand smoke while pregnant, but may have lived in inadequate housing without proper nutrition, the study found.
The findings "show, for the first time, that urban children exposed to both conditions experience a kind of double jeopardy with consequences persisting into early childhood and possibly beyond," Dr. Virginia Rauh, principal author of the study, said in a statement.
Researchers studied 226 babies born to nonsmoking women in Washington Heights, Harlem and the south Bronx. Their findings will be published in the Neurotoxicology and Teratology journal this spring.
The study is part of a broader research project that examines the health effects on pregnant women and their babies exposed to air pollutants from exhaust, commercial fuels, tobacco smoke and pesticides.